Max Brooks' novel "World War Z" ushered in a whole new respect for the Zombie genre. It's an intelligent, thrilling novel about the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. I found it hard to put down.
Hollywood has this habit of buying popular properties of print, then turning them into films that are hardly recognizable as the same story. This is no exception. However, and this is good news for fans, it's still an adrenaline-filled good time.
World War Z shares the global scope of the novel and little else. Brad Pitt plays daring UN worker Gerry Lane, desperate to seek the origin of the outbreak or some hint as to what might stop it's spread. In order to save his family, he must save the world. Pitt is a capable action star has the charisma to elevate the material he's working with.
The movie doesn't share the subtlety of the book or it's claustrophobic focus on individual survivor tales, but what it does is KEEP MOVING. It spends only a few minutes introducing us to the main characters then catapults the audience on a world-wide adventure with hoards of zombies threatening attack at any moment.
Mark Forster, the capable director of Finding Neverland and Quantum of Solace, keeps the relentless pace through about 2/3rds of the film, slowing down for a finale that allows for a more intimate series of scares. The zombies here are the ultra-fast variety--think a hybrid of the vampire-creatures in Will Smith's Iam Legend and Jurrassic Park's Velociraptors.
It's not the book, but it's fun on its own. Plus, fans of the novel should take heart in that it leaves the door wide open for a cable channel to do a miniseries that actually follows the book.
Of particular note is that they succeeded in making a Zombie movie with minimal gore, something I appreciated. While the hit-series The Walking Dead features flesh torn from still-living humans and entrail-ripping zombies, World War Z delivers a nearly gore-free thrill ride where the biting is implied instead of graphically depicted. Some fans will hate that, I liked it. One of the brilliant things about Hitchcock's Psycho was that he didn't show the knife stab in the infamous shower scene-- your imagination does it for you.
It's silly, popcorn fun, but it IS popcorn fun.
ONE funny thing to watch for: In the opening credits, clearly trying to set a creepy mood and a possible origin of the virus with real news clips there's a clip of various bird-flu outbreaks, the infamous face-eater in Florida, AND.... a CNN warning about Global Warming. So there you have it-- Global Warming is even causing zombie outbreaks! --Hey, come to think of it, it might very well BE creating zombies--just not the kind they think!